At 375 pages, the new Schoolhouse Planner is a tad overwhelming...maybe they should call it the Life Planner? How else would you describe this e-book crammed with forms for everything including annual school planning, co-op planning, weekly planning, book and property inventories, journal pages, garden and menu planning, address book pages, a prayer journal, a Bible reading schedule, monthly calendars, recipes, articles, supplemental resources and so much more. You can see the complete table of contents here.
The planner is delivered in type-in pdf format, so not only can you pick and choose your forms and print out as many copies as you like, you can also type directly into the forms and even save the planner with your typed-in information.
If you read my review of the 2008 planner last year, you might be wondering: How does the 2009 Planner stack up? In addition to new forms (including tools for recording your preschoolers' progress, an address book and book inventories by both title and subject, just to name a few), brand new recipes and new homeschooling articles, the planning forms have been revamped with a simple, clean look that prints well in both color and black-and-white. Gone are the dark-colored backgrounds that made legibility difficult. Gone is the "mice-type" for your typed-in information. For ease of navigation, you can jump to any form by clicking on it in the table of contents. This is a highly usable planner with plenty of possibilities.
I like the inclusion of daily and weekly schedules for one, two, three, four and five children (though the boxes for four and five are a bit on the cramped side---a two-page spread may have been in order here. I think I would print 2 copies of the three-children form and hole-punch them so they face each other in a binder). I like the new preschool resources, including suggestions for a preschool activity box and a little skills checklist. And I'll definitely be using the address book pages...it's about time I stopped saving addresses on bits of paper and in sundry notebooks where I have to figure out which is the most current address. Now, I can type the address into my Schoolhouse Planner and save it. When an address changes, I can just type over the old address and save it again! There's even a place for the person's email address. Speaking of which, the website form will come in handy for noting websites I want to use for future studies (you wouldn't believe the number of unorganized bookmarks I have in my browser...try hundreds!). Can you tell that I'm already imagining a million uses for this planner?
There are a few things I would change about the Planner if I could. It's not possible, for instance, to save a page or two into a separate file and keep the type-in capabilities. You can enter some information and save the entire planner in a new file, but if you have a few forms that you want to save several versions of, we're talking a lot of memory space. I would also like to see a perpetual calendar, basically a blank calendar with type-in fields for adding the month and the dates myself, since the monthly calendar pages only cover from July 2009 to June 2010.
While the supplemental resources included in the Planner are certainly handy, I would loooove to see the addition of more links to free resources on the web so I can turn these into mini-unit studies. The links to further resources for sale in the Old Schoolhouse Store are helpful, but, let's face it, in today's economy you want to get as much value as you can from the purchase you've already made. I'd also love to see recipes that are more appropriate for the months they are featured in to make menu planning easier. For example, one July recipe (Chicken and Rice) requires a 1-1/2 hr. bake time, not something you want to do during the hottest days of summer, whereas a recipe featured in November (Curry Chicken Salad) is a cold salad that would be perfect for a July picnic. This is something you can easily rearrange yourself if you print your recipe pages and put them into a binder.
Another couple of minor annoyances:
- The "Weekly Planning 1" form has a huge font-size for the type in fields (it gets smaller as you type more into the field) and only one line per planning block.
- The "High School Hours Tracking Log" has no fields for actually typing in the subject names (each column just has the word "subject" at the top, but no place to type in what the subject is).
Overall, though, the 2009 Schoolhouse Planner has a lot to offer and I'm definitely planning to give it a good workout this year.
The 2009 Schoolhouse Planner is available in type-in pdf format from the Old Schoolhouse Store for $39.
This is the first review for this year's TOS crew. For more reviews of this product from other homeschoolers, click the banner below: